Friday, March 24, 2017

Book announcement: New edition of Avudraham and other works, R. Greensweig, etc.

Book announcement New edition of Avudraham and other works
By Eliezer Brodt

אבודרהם, עם הגהות וביאורים תהלה לדוד, א, ירושלים תשס"א, שכא עמודים
אבודרהם, א, ירושלים תשע"ה, נערך מחדש על פי דפוס ראשון מוגה ומפוסק עם מקורת מלאים, מדור הערות הארות וביאורים מקורות ומקבילות לדברי רבינו, תפילות חול, 429 עמודים
אבודרהם, ב, ירושלים תשע"ו, כהנ"ל, תפילות שבת ומועדים, 625 עמודים
ר' אליהו גרינצייג, קרואי מועד, פסח, שעה עמודים
הנ"ל, קרואי מועד, ראש השנה, שלג עמודים
הנ"ל, קרואי מועד, ספירת העומר שבועות, רמט עמודים
הנ"ל, קרואי מועד, חנוכה, רצה עמודים
מקרא העדה, חידושים וביאורים על סדר פרשיות התורה, א, בראשית-חיי שרה, תקסד עמודים

Many years ago, while still a bochur learning in the Mir, a friend of mine took me along for a Shabbas meal, promising me I'd meet an amazing Talmid Chochum obsessed with seforim. This was my first encounter with R' Eliyhau Greensweig. My friend did not exaggerate in any way. The whole meal I simply sat there drooling at the wall-to-wall seforim library. Later I learned this was only part of his library. This was a collection which I had never before seen the likes of. During the meal we spoke about numerous seforim and random sugyos; I was simply blown away. From that Shabbas, I began visiting him every few weeks and we would speak for a few hours about different topics and seforim. His vast knowledge was, simply put, incredible. One additional attribute which always struck me while talking with R' Greensweig was his tremendous humility. Many times, when specific topics came up, he would say "I wrote a whole kuntres on this". Once, he took out a huge stack of papers and said to me "this is a work on Rambam Sanhedrin". Over time, it came out that he had ghost written numerous articles and works. Once I mentioned to him that I had noticed that a specific volume of a particular set of seforim has a different style than previous volumes and that whoever wrote the notes is familiar with "not the 'standard stuff'". He smiled at me and said "guess who wrote those notes…?" Still, much of his work has appeared under his own name. One of the main projects which he had worked on for many years was  Otzar Mifarshei HaTalmud from Machon Yerushalayim. Without getting into the pros or cons of this work, anyone familiar with it knows it has references to thousands of seforim. This was done long before many of the modern Torah computer programs came on to the playing field (which is beside the point, as R' Greensweig does not know how to use a computer search engine!). One description I had heard of him was "he was Mechon Yerushalyim's 'secret weapon'".

Over the past twenty five years various prominent Torah Journals, such as Yeshurun, Yerushaseinu, Beis Aharon V'Yisroel, Moriah, Kol Torah and others, have featured numerous articles authored by him. Some of the times he would print a section of the Avudraham with his erudite notes; other times the article was related to the Torah reading (Parsha) or an upcoming Yom Tov.

In 2001, an annotated edition of part of the classic work Avudraham appeared on the seforim market. Printed by the Or Hasefer Publishing house, it included an anonymous commentary called Tehilah Ledovid.

The significance of the Avudraham is well known and hardly needs mentioning here; just to cite the well-known Haskamah of the Nodeh Beyehudah to the Prague edition:
כבר נודע בשער בת רבים גודל מעלת החיבור ספר אבודרהם, ורוב מנהגי התפילות והברכות קדושות והבדלות על ספרו בנוים, ובטור אורח החיים מביאו הבית יוסף והאחרונים לרוב מאוד, והוא ספר יקר הערך ויש בו צורך, כי האחרונים העתיקו ממנו דברים בקיצור...

Avrhom E. Harkavy writes:
סי' אבודרהם יקר ונכבד הוא לנו כי בו שרד וימלטו דברים רבים מסדור רב עמרם גאון (שלא בא לידנו בתמונתו וצבינו) ומסדור רב סעדיה גאון ומשאר חבורים קדמונים. [חדשים גם ישנים, עמ' 237]
For anyone looking to learn through an enjoyable sefer about Tefilah and Yom Tovim - this the work for him.

The notes in the Or Hasefer edition impressed numerous experts and Talmedei Chachomim. However almost no one knew who the author was, as he chose to remain anonymous. The author is, of course, none other than R' Eliyahu Greensweig. Interestingly, the introduction of the 2001 volume "claims" to be based upon manuscripts, sadly however, this is not the case. This claim was something the publisher added by himself after he checked up a few things in manuscript; R' Greensweig himself never checked up manuscripts. The primary aim of his notes was to provide the sources for the material quoted (utilized) by the Avudraham and to cite those sources who discuss the sefer. Most accurately, the notes are encyclopedic and full of thousands of sources, many from rare seforim. The notes are also full of "Torah" and at times perhaps a bit lengthy (as is common these days). Additionally, it is clear from the material cited that the author has an excellent command of academic literature, as well. For the most part all these sources could be found in R' Greensweig's incredible library! However, despite the great value in this edition, until recently only one volume was available leaving many to wonder when the rest would (ever?) be completed.

In 2015, volume one was reissued in a limited edition with corrections and many additions by the Keren Re'em publishing house. One useful correction was that some of the longer notes were removed for the body and placed in the appendix. In the summer of 2016, volume two was released privately for the first time.

A few months ago the two volumes were released for sale to the public distributed by Yefeh Nof publishers, with the final volume, volume three, due to be released in the summer, BE"H. I highly recommend this work and am sure that many will benefit from these volumes.

Besides for this new work on Avudraham, as I mentioned previously, R' Greensweig has written voluminously over the years. Thanks to the efforts of his sons and some generous sponsors, some of his other works have just been printed. To date, four volumes on the Yom Tovim have appeared in a paperback edition, each one including the related section of the Avudraham in the back, with R' Greensweig's invaluable notes. The most recent of the four seforim is on Pesach. A few weeks ago, a hard cover volume on the first half of Chumash Bereishis appeared, with a total of eighty pieces! All this material is pieces he wrote over the years; each week he would write on one topic, and then add to it when he found more material, with a small percentage of the articles having appeared in various journals throughout the years. One does not have to wait until Chumash Bereishis arrives to learn this sefer as the pieces are encyclopedic and useful all year around (see below for the table of contents). One weakness, pointed out in the introduction, is sometimes there can be a certain amount of redundancy and sometimes the pieces smack of a lack of proper editing. The reason for these drawbacks is that proper editing (and condensing the redundant pieces) would hold up and delay printing.

Here are the table of contents of some of these works, showing the wide range of topics discussed. A PDF sample piece of the Avudraham and of one article is available upon request, also available upon request is a much more in-depth Table of contents of the works.

Copies of the newly published two volume set of Avudraham should be available in regular stores. The paperback works on Yomim Tovim are available for purchase at Begieleisen in Boro Park and Judaica Plaza in Lakewood.

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